International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness of ongoing discrimination and take action. This blog seeks to touch on all three, looking at women who experience homelessness and the daily achievements they make within a system that is stacked against them. The key to building an inclusive movement for women’s housing is to start from a place of respect and understanding. By recognising all those who identify as women and acknowledging that not everyone’s needs are the same, we can design solutions that fit the needs of women who experience homelessness.
Women face particular challenges, in comparison to men, when maintaining accommodation and ending their homelessness. These include a pay imbalance, experiences of abuse and the additional pressures of caring responsibilities. To find out more about the difference in women’s experience, check out Homeless Link’s myth busting briefing or our review of what we know so far about women’s homelessness.
The effect of multiple pressures can often feel overwhelming and negatively impact the mental health of those who experience it. However, women who experience homelessness consistently show resilience and develop creative strategies to manage. This can involve avoiding places and services where they might find themselves at risk, resulting in their homelessness being less visible. It is therefore important that we speak to the women experiencing homelessness to find out how services can support them best.
We, at Homeless Link, spoke to a group of women who have experienced or are experiencing homelessness and asked them what they were most proud of themselves for in the last year. We are really grateful to the women for taking the time to reflect on their past year and for their bravery in sharing their responses with us. Every step to build connections, create home, and empower themselves to move forward should be celebrated.
Their responses were really informative and demonstrated a real range of achievements:
- ‘Making my flat more homely, I bought a plant and some furniture’
- ‘Sorting out my appointments with the job centre, they were able to come to where I live so I felt more comfortable and able to get it done’
- ‘Doing my hair, this made me feel more confident’.
- ‘Meeting my best friend, I’ve never had friends before and she is like my sister’.
- ‘Going to college’
- ‘Finding true love’.
For more stories of women’s experiences of homelessness, have a look at the work of ‘In Her Strength’. In Her Strength is a long-term theatre project providing creative opportunities for women with experience of homelessness to make work and challenge stereotypes.
Through listening and learning about the experiences of the women we support; services can develop the right solutions for the person and services we operate.
To find out more about how to design and develop service for women check out resources produced by Homeless Link and guidance and toolkits from organisations across the women’s and homelessness sector.
Womens Housing Movement:
You can also join the movement to recognise and support women experiencing homelessness and celebrate their achievements.
- Leaders Practice Forum
This community of practice is for those who are currently providing or hoping to provide services to women experiencing homelessness. If you are a service manager, housing lead, network coordinator, or just interested; get involved to connect with other people in the women's housing movement. Keep an eye out for the next event on the 28th April, the event page will be published shortly.
This community of practice is for frontline staff working with women to connect with other practitioners, share best practice and generate new ideas.